Sagas of the Northmen is a visual anthology comprising of seven standalone tales of Norse men and women during the time of Vikings. Edited by Sean Fahey, this graphic novel is from independent publisher Black Jack Press and is the result of a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this autumn. Black Jack Press is known for Westerns, such as their comic book series, Tall Tales from the Badlands. Lettering and production design for this Viking-inspired collection was completed by Kel Nuttall.
The contributors included some high-profile industry names: Eisner-nominated writer Derek Fridolfs; Marvel/DC/IDW artist Mario Guevara (Dark Horse’s Solomon Kane); Mark Wheaton (Dark Horse); and many others. In addition, at the back of the 63-page novel, there were three pin-up pages from artists Matt Smith, Mario Guevara, and Mauro Reifscheider.
What I most enjoyed about this book was the contrasting points of view employed from story to story, which resulted in a fuller picture of the Vikings. For instance, “Satan’s Hordes,” scripted by Mark Wheaton and illustrated by Jok, told the story of the Lindisfarne monks who were raided by a Viking party in 8th century which juxtaposed with “Because It Is There” in which writer Fahey and artist Marcelo Basile take the stance that Vikings had a thirst for knowledge and were driven by a spirit of exploration and a need for progress. The story, “No King But the Law,” provided a glimpse into Viking justice, which I thought conveyed one of the most engaging stories of the collection. I also thought writer Susan Wallis and artist Todor Bristow’s “Heart of Iron” told a compelling story about a woman passionate about her family, her community, and her Viking heritage.
The black-and-white illustrations were varied in style and approach, which I thought strengthened and showcased each story. Bristow’s work on “Heart of Iron” was a study of textures to highlight and hide details of the characters and the wild environment. In particular, I liked Basile’s layout for “Because It Is There,” because he incorporated Norse tribal designs in the background that gave a unique visual depth that contrasted well to the detailed, ink-laden images that populated each page. Nuttall’s lettering fit nicely and provided a finishing touch to the story.
Basile created the bright, earthy toned cover, incorporating several Norse symbols. In the background, Basile included a circular Norse design, part of a ship’s helm, and three Norsemen. The central Viking, in a full regalia of armor and weaponry, is the emblem of Norse power while two additional Vikings stand guard in the distance. The cover caps off a fascinating collection of stories, which I think would be an enjoyable read for individuals with an interest in Norse history.